Substantive short articles on Marxian sociology

Marx and the Dutch East India Company

Marx's examination of Dutch colonial violence in Indonesia highlight's important aspects of his approach to original accumulation that are easily lost when viewing the chapter, "the so-called original accumulation," through the lens of English exceptionalism, as many Marxists are prone to do.

By |2019-11-05T12:31:37-05:00Nov 5, 2019|

Du Bois and the Jefferson School of Social Science

The Jefferson School of Social Science's mission was not only to educate cadre in Marxist theory, students were also expected to take that education into the street in mass actions including protests, and political organizing. This mission resonated with W.E.B. Du Bois’ goal to create inter-racial solidarity for an equitable future. The Jefferson School provided him the opportunity to bring that sentiment to the masses, and more importantly fix Africa and Black Americans in the vision for a socialist future predicated on the unity of all the oppressed.

By |2019-10-29T17:13:35-04:00Oct 29, 2019|

A Great Little Man: The Shadow of Jair Bolsonaro

How to assess the new Brazilian regime? Early as it is in Bolsonaro’s rule, some broad stroke preliminaries are possible. In what follows I trace the political paralysis of the first five months, the popular social base of Bolsonarismo, its relationship to capital, and the role of evangelical Pentecostalism. I offer a biographical profile of Bolsonaro himself, map the three pivotal factions constituting the new government, and assess the economic outlook of the country. To anticipate the basic conclusions: the Bolsonaro regime is a weak and internally divided far-right regime, with declining popular support; capital backed Bolsonaro as a way out of crisis, but thus far the regime has not delivered, and the markets are losing faith.

By |2019-10-15T16:56:43-04:00Oct 15, 2019|

Marx on Taxation

Tax is not treated comprehensively in any of the major political-economy texts of Marx and Engels, but is instead covered piecemeal, predominantly in their journalism, occasionally in their letters. They supported progressive taxes, both on capital and income, had a strong preference for direct over indirect taxation, and back restrictions on inheritance. The tax landscape of Marx and Engels is clearly different to our own – in 1849, indirect taxes accounted for 40% of the Prussian Royal Finance Ministry total tax take, and direct taxes, only 29%, whereas today in the UK or Germany, indirect taxes are in the minority, with direct taxes generating around two-thirds of the total take. Indirect taxes are expected to account for 28% of the UK total tax take in 2018-19. The poorest UK households currently pay twice as much of their disposable income in indirect taxes, a clear driver of net income inequality.

By |2019-08-28T17:47:01-04:00Aug 28, 2019|

The New Memphis

This Life is a profound tour of our inner life and purpose that deftly weaves in religion and political economy, with an eye always to the future. But it fails to appreciate the profound worth of institutional changes that might reallocate powers and capacities to exploited people here and now for its chief goal, spiritual freedom.

By |2019-08-07T12:31:02-04:00Aug 7, 2019|

The Ruling Class Does Rule

Social scientists should assuredly keep the structural constraints of capitalism in mind when developing state theory in the 21st century. However, we should not lose site of the fact that individuals also make history, and that a single-minded focus on the structural constraints of capitalism may only lead to a functionalist interpretation of the state, alongside a cynical approach to politics.

By |2019-07-17T11:52:11-04:00Jul 17, 2019|